Clear and crisp nights amidst the smell of wood crackling in the fireplace, warm spiced gingerbread drifting from the oven and Christmas music playing softly in the background all build the anticipation of the holidays. Whether it’s glittering lights in towering trees or the dazzled faces of children dreaming of Santa Claus, the holidays are here. And in McKinney, it wouldn’t be complete without the beautiful, unique windowscapes expertly hand painted by Anne Davidson of Vital Signs.
“I love the Christmas holidays! My window paintings give businesses a unique look and help shoppers feel the holiday spirit. When I begin to paint windows, the scenes just go from brain to brush and then onto the window. Whether it’s singing snowpeople, toy trains or the Babe in the Manger, it’s a joy to bring these images to life. They put a spring in the steps of all those walking by, and it’s an absolute joy for me,” explains Anne.
McKinney’s streets and shops have been enjoying Anne’s charming, hand-painted Christmas windows for more than 20 years. Beginning Nov. 1 each year and continuing through mid- December, she creates magical displays of joy and fantasy for local businesses. Vital Signs is a full service sign company that focuses on creating signs of all kinds for small businesses throughout McKinney and its surrounding areas. Anne involves those passing by in the process, capturing the spirit of Christmas for her customers — one window at a time.
“Several years ago, I was painting at a laundromat, and the kids of parents working on their weekly laundry found my activity captivating. Soon, they were wandering out and shyly watching my progress. I asked them what color I should paint the snowman’s hat and if the snowman should have mittens or gloves. As the kids became more animated, the parents also became engaged, and the entire affair turned into a group activity. It was great fun to allow the kids to paint the extra snowflakes and watch their faces light up with pride. I can’t tell you how much fun everyone had. I think I had the most fun of all,” recalls Anne.
Anne got her first taste of hand lettering at a Hilton Hotel in Miami Beach, creating signs to help guests find meeting rooms which were scattered throughout several buildings. She relocated to McKinney in 1982 when her sister, Fran Roper, had just opened her store “Once Upon a Time Stained Glass.” Anne explained, “My sister needed a sign, and I decided we ought to be able to do this! We gathered boards and paint from McKinney Lumber and figured it out. My first official sign was 32 feet long! It turned out pretty well, too!”
After completing several “ad-hoc” signs for various businesses, Vital Signs was born. “Back in the day, everything was hand painted. I was so nervous, I painted one customer’s sign by van headlights at night,” she confesses meekly. Now computer assisted, Vital Signs operates as a commercial sign shop all year, offering storefronts, channel letters, window and vehicle signs, graphics and wraps. The team, including Anne, Roy Riggs and Jessica Smith, complete each project with the commitment to exceed the client’s expectation. She continues, “Our job is to ‘sell your stuff ’ through our signs.”
The window paintings represent much more than Christmas itself. They are a delightful escape from our everyday life and recapture our childhood innocence, providing a glimpse into times gone by. Deanna Ross, Owner of Lone Star Wine Cellars, was drawn to the windows when she first purchased her business. “I remember passing some windows in early December and admiring the artwork. The windows just make everything so much more cheerful and bright and are perfect for the holidays. I asked a gal on my street who painted them, and she referred to me to Anne at Vital Signs. I called the next day, spoke with Anne and placed my order.”
Located just off the square of Historic Downtown McKinney inside the Old Ritz Theater Building, Lone Star Wine Cellars offers a cozy wine tasting room amidst friendly service and award-winning wines. “We pride ourselves on the tradition of a fine wine, gracefully aged to perfection. Anne’s holiday window paintings really add to our seasonal decor while not filling up our small place. Anne always does an amazing job,” says Deanna.
She laughs and continues, “One year, we had a little mishap when a server mistakenly told Anne to paint the wrong window. Once she completed it, she called to asked how I liked it, and when I pointed out her mistake, she said, ‘Oh no,’ and laughed. The next day, she was back, painting the right window to coordinate with the scene. Anne is really the most down-to-earth person I know. She is a breath of fresh air, and I trust her implicitly. She wants all of her customers to be 100% satisfied. She does a beautiful job on everything she touches.”
Anne notes, “For me, every window painting makes me happy. It’s a gift I love to share.”
About the author: Carolyn Cameron is a freelance writer, business marketing, and social media professional through her business, Cameron Communications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.